Florida Governor Crist Endorses McCain

In a devastating blow to the Giuliani campaign, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced last night that he was throwing his support - and considerable weight and popularity - behind John McCain.

The Giuliani camp had been working on Crist for months, trying to get him to endorse Rudy. But Crist proved himself a savvy politician when he held off
on his endorsement:

Giuliani campaign sources said Crist pledged his endorsement to Giuliani in the early fall, when McCain’s campaign appeared dead and Giuliani was leading the state by double digits. But at the time, McCain supporters leaned on Crist to hold back and wait until after the New Hampshire primary. McCain had campaigned for Crist when he was seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and had hoped Crist would return the favor.

After McCain’s New Hampshire victory, Giuliani aides did not know what Crist would do next, but the governor had said as recently as Friday that he might still weigh in before the Florida primary. Giuliani and Crist met when the mayor campaigned in Tallahassee last week, but aides said the meeting was more perfunctory than a plea for an endorsement. Giuliani campaign aides said they were given an early warning today that Crist would throw his weight behind McCain.

The news is a definitive blow to Giuliani, and a sign of his fading prospects in the Sunshine State. Giuliani has gone out of his way on numerous occasions to praise Crist, and each time suggested he would be a viable vice presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, the latest Zogby-Rueters tracking poll has Giuliani falling further behind the front runners McCain and Romney who are tied at 30% each for first with Mike Huckabee passing Giuliani for third. It would seem only a miracle could now save Giuliani's candidacy.

The Crist endorsement helps McCain where he needs it the most; organization. Crist supporters have actually been asssisting McCain for several weeks and given Romney's financial advantage, any aid McCain can get in getting his people to the polls will be a huge plus.

But McCain may have hurt himself yesterday by intimating the Governor Romney actually supported a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq - a patently false statement.  
The New York Times plays referee:

 
The charge appears to be misleading. The McCain campaign pointed to remarks Mr. Romney made last year in which he said he believed that President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq should have “a series of timetables and milestones” that they discussed among themselves but did not announce publicly.

But Mr. Romney has not called for setting a date for withdrawal. Mr. Romney has said he supports the president’s current strategy, although he has said he anticipates more and more American troops moving into a support role in Iraq in the next year — similar to what Gen. David H. Petraeus outlined in his testimony before Congress last year.
McCain appears to be trying to change the thrust of the Florida campaign from the economy to national security - a change that would benefit him. But given recent news out of Washington having to do with the stimulus package, he is not making much headway.

On my radio show last night, AT's Political Correspondent Rich Baehr pointed out that Romney is also benefitting by getting the lion's share of support from former Fred Thompson voters who appear to be lining up behind the former Massachusetts governor. If that is true, and if the economy is the major issue in the campaign, Romney should be able to pull out a very narrow win in Tuesday's primary.
In a devastating blow to the Giuliani campaign, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced last night that he was throwing his support - and considerable weight and popularity - behind John McCain.

The Giuliani camp had been working on Crist for months, trying to get him to endorse Rudy. But Crist proved himself a savvy politician when he held off
on his endorsement:

Giuliani campaign sources said Crist pledged his endorsement to Giuliani in the early fall, when McCain’s campaign appeared dead and Giuliani was leading the state by double digits. But at the time, McCain supporters leaned on Crist to hold back and wait until after the New Hampshire primary. McCain had campaigned for Crist when he was seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and had hoped Crist would return the favor.

After McCain’s New Hampshire victory, Giuliani aides did not know what Crist would do next, but the governor had said as recently as Friday that he might still weigh in before the Florida primary. Giuliani and Crist met when the mayor campaigned in Tallahassee last week, but aides said the meeting was more perfunctory than a plea for an endorsement. Giuliani campaign aides said they were given an early warning today that Crist would throw his weight behind McCain.

The news is a definitive blow to Giuliani, and a sign of his fading prospects in the Sunshine State. Giuliani has gone out of his way on numerous occasions to praise Crist, and each time suggested he would be a viable vice presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, the latest Zogby-Rueters tracking poll has Giuliani falling further behind the front runners McCain and Romney who are tied at 30% each for first with Mike Huckabee passing Giuliani for third. It would seem only a miracle could now save Giuliani's candidacy.

The Crist endorsement helps McCain where he needs it the most; organization. Crist supporters have actually been asssisting McCain for several weeks and given Romney's financial advantage, any aid McCain can get in getting his people to the polls will be a huge plus.

But McCain may have hurt himself yesterday by intimating the Governor Romney actually supported a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq - a patently false statement.  
The New York Times plays referee:

 
The charge appears to be misleading. The McCain campaign pointed to remarks Mr. Romney made last year in which he said he believed that President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq should have “a series of timetables and milestones” that they discussed among themselves but did not announce publicly.

But Mr. Romney has not called for setting a date for withdrawal. Mr. Romney has said he supports the president’s current strategy, although he has said he anticipates more and more American troops moving into a support role in Iraq in the next year — similar to what Gen. David H. Petraeus outlined in his testimony before Congress last year.
McCain appears to be trying to change the thrust of the Florida campaign from the economy to national security - a change that would benefit him. But given recent news out of Washington having to do with the stimulus package, he is not making much headway.

On my radio show last night, AT's Political Correspondent Rich Baehr pointed out that Romney is also benefitting by getting the lion's share of support from former Fred Thompson voters who appear to be lining up behind the former Massachusetts governor. If that is true, and if the economy is the major issue in the campaign, Romney should be able to pull out a very narrow win in Tuesday's primary.